Trump’s racism is not only an absolute disgrace to the presidency and a slap in the face to all of the people of color who make this nation what it is, it’s also actively dangerous. Hate crimes have been on the rise since this creature slithered into the Oval Office, and he’s done nothing but fan the flames of racial and ethnic division since.
Now, a former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence, Frank Figliuzzi, has penned a blunt op-ed in The New York Times in which he lays out Trump’s culpability in causing white nationalist violence. In a levelheaded tone, and with the weight of his experience invested in every word, Figliuzzi lays out a chilling argument.
“If I learned anything from 25 years in the F.B.I., including a stint as head of counterintelligence, it was to trust my gut when I see a threat unfolding. Those of us who were part of the post-Sept. 11 intelligence community had a duty to sound the alarm about an impending threat,” the piece begins.
Figliuzzi says that his “instinct and experience” make him dread more “white hate violence” which he says is “stoked by a racially divisive president.” While he adds that it’s his hope that he turns out to be incorrect, the evidence he presents is deeply unsettling. He cites the fact that the FBI has made 90 domestic terrorism arrests since October alone and that 40% of the 850 domestic terrorism cases currently underway are tied to racial extremism.
From there, the former assistant director pivots to discuss the shooting last weekend at Gilroy Garlic Festival, in which three innocent people were murdered in cold blood by a young man enamored of white nationalist writings. Figliuzzi points out that it was on this same weekend that Trump attacked Black congressman Elijah Cummings and smeared the entire city of Baltimore as “rat and rodent infested.”
The former law enforcement agent tied the attack on Cummings to Trump’s previous attacks on four Congresswomen, all people of color, during which the president told them to “go back” to their own countries, even though three of them were born in the United States.
“Reporting indicates that Mr. Trump’s rants emboldened white hate groups and reinforced racist blogs, news sites and social media platforms. In response to his tweets, one of the four lawmakers, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, said: ‘This is the agenda of white nationalists, whether it is happening in chat rooms or it’s happening on national TV. And now it’s reached the White House garden.’ She’s right,” he writes.
Figliuzzi goes on to clarify that he’s not outright accusing Trump of being responsible for the Gilroy shooting, but that he believes the president “empowers hateful and potentially violent individuals with his divisive rhetoric and his unwillingness to unequivocally denounce white supremacy.” He correctly states that Trump has actively chosen to run for reelection by engendering and appealing to hate, and this can, in turn, lead to violence.
“It doesn’t really matter whether Mr. Trump is truly a racist or merely playing one on television to appeal to his base. Either way, his path can lead to bloodshed. When that happens, we will hear White House officials and the Republican leadership claim their hands are clean because malicious people can’t be stopped from acting out,” the piece reads.
The op-ed is a sobering piece of work, and one that should be read in full to appreciate the gravity of the situation Trump has put us in. Read it here.